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Carl Lorenz, Maersk:

Kenya: “The market is riper than ever for sending flowers by sea and so are we”

Maersk has been offering the option of sending flowers by sea from Kenya to Europe for some time now, but it is only recently that this service has been refined and actively promoted. “ After years of developing and testing, we have proven that we are now able to deliver a viable ‘Ocean Product’ for flowers that works,” says Carl Lorenz, Managing Director, Eastern Africa area, at Maersk. On top of their ocean product, they now also offer an end-to-end service and recently started to consolidate cargo.

Christopher Kulei - Managing Director, Sian Flowers Group of Farms, one of the farms that is shipping quantities of their flowers via sea.

Advantages of ocean freight
According to Lorenz, there are two main advantages. “Firstly cost, ocean freight is typically 40% cheaper than air freight. Secondly, there is the environmental aspect. Ocean freight is 70-80% more environmentally friendly (studies are still being concluded to determine more precisely how much) than air freight. And when then talking about shipping flowers by ocean from Kenya, Maersk has something that is proven and really works; spoilage rates for ocean shipments on our vessels this year, for example, are around 2-3%, which is similar to air freight. So, having the sea as a more cost-effective means to get flowers to market makes Kenya more competitive as a flower-growing hub.”

“A viable ocean product for flowers”
“Over the past years, we have developed this muscle on the back of the avocadoes that we ship to Europe, which are also reliable and transit time-sensitive perishable cargo. We now have an ocean product that works for flowers, and that is the backbone.”

In addition to the ocean product, Maersk offers a truly end-to-end service in that they offer packing, transportation, customs services, and visibility through their Captain Peter product. “This allows customers to track location, temperature, humidity, and atmospheric levels of their containers.”

What’s new is that Maersk now offers a 'less than a container load’ (LCL) product, where they consolidate around a dozen shippers’ cargo into one container. “Not all shippers can fill an entire container every week, so the LCL product makes absolute sense for boutique exporters. We manage the packing ourselves to ensure all cargo is cooled together. We rolled out this service for flowers over the last two months, and so far, we have achieved great success, Lorenz explains. 

Future for ocean freight
Lorenz expects the demand for shipping flowers by sea to grow from year to year and quite exponentially for Maersk. “This is for two reasons, firstly, we now have a product that works and makes sense for our customers, and secondly, because right now, we are only scratching the surface. To put this into perspective, if we were to convert all the flower exports to ocean containers, the market would be around 500  or 40’equivalent units (FFE) per week. So far this year, we’ve shipped less than two weeks’ worth of flower shipments by sea, so there is a lot of room for growth. Air freight will still play a major role, but the ocean has all the ground to make up. Additionally, with our new LCL service, we will attract the interest of more flower exporters.”

Dispel any myths about shipping flowers by ocean
Next week, on November 8, Lorenz will be one of the panelists at the Flowers by Sea Conference that will take place just prior to the IFTF Trade fair in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands. During this conference, he and the other panelists will be taking questions from the audience, aiming to dispel any myths about shipping flowers by sea, highlight the benefits and talk about how Maersk has something that is proven and really works.

International Floriculture Trade Fair (IFTF)
Then, from November 9-11, Lorenz and his team will take detailed discussions with their customers on the benefits of the ocean during the IFTF 2022. “This will hopefully drive an increased uptake of flowers by sea, which will be good for our customers, good for the environment, good for us, and good for Kenya.” Eager to learn more about Maersk and their ocean product? You can find them at stand number D2.17.

For more information:
Carl Lorenz, Managing Director, Eastern Africa Area  
E-Mail: [email protected]